August 22, 2014 at 8:56 am

Parents of executed U.S. journalist had hoped to negotiate for his release

Diane and John Foley talk to reporters, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H., after speaking with President Obama Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (Jim Cole / AP)

Rochester, N.H. — The parents of slain journalist James Foley said they regarded an email they received from his captors last week as a hopeful sign they could negotiate with the Islamic militants.

Speaking on NBC’s “Today,” John and Diane Foley from Rochester, New Hampshire, said they had last heard from the captors via several emails in December.

John Foley said he was excited to see the latest email, even though it threatened execution, because he hoped they would be willing to negotiate.

“I underestimated that point,” John Foley said of the threat. “I did not realize how brutal they were.”

Foley, 40, was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012. In the last email, Foley’s Islamic State captors demanded $132.5 million from his parents and political concessions from Washington. Authorities say neither obliged.

The militants revealed Foley’s death in a video released Tuesday. The extremists said they killed him in retaliation U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamic State positions in northern Iraq.

The Foleys said they had set up a special email address and sent multiple messages to try to engage the captors.

“We were just anxiously waiting,” Diane Foley said.

In New Hampshire, Gov. Maggie Hassan has directed flags to fly at half-staff in honor of Foley on Sunday, the day a church service is planned in remembrance of him.

“An unconscionable act of terror took him from us far too soon, but his unyielding commitment to advancing our cherished First Amendment right across the globe and the truths he unveiled will live on forever,” she said in a statement.